Chiefs edge willing Sharks
Chiefs edge willing SharksSHARE
The Chiefs edged the Sharks 37-29 in an entertaining Super Rugby match in Hamilton on Saturday – a game that produced eight tries.
It is a result that see the defending champion Chiefs regain second place in the New Zealand conference and move into second place on the global standings.
The four-try bonus point collected by the Sharks – who were cruelly denied a second bonus point – see the men from Durban go top of the South African conference for at least a few hours.
The last time these two sides met was also at Waikato Stadium, last August in the Final of the Super 15. Then the Chiefs won 37-6.
This time it seemed that the Sharks were in for an even bigger hiding. After 16 minutes they were down 24-0. At that rate they looked set to lose 120-0 over 80 minutes.
But the first half was a period of two halves. The Sharks pulled themselves together and ended the half just 19-24 behind. In fact in the remaining 64 minutes the Chiefs scored 13 points, their winning splurge over early in the match.
Both sides were coming off defeats the previous week; neither had the appearance of dominance they had enjoyed the previous year. But they turned in a match of the highest quality, scoring four tries each as the Sharks, after three tryless matches, broke their drought with four. It was an exciting match and one of great skill – the skill of the fleet-footed home backs against the skill of the united Sharks' pack.
In fact the Sharks could have done even better out of the match but for errors of judgement by Keegan Daniel – twice being forced into touch when he should have worked his way infield, breaking off a maul prematurely, tapping a penalty under the Chiefs' posts when a bonus point beckoned, and then conceding a kickable penalty in trying to get a turnover right at the end.
Tattooed, club-carrying Maori warriors saw the teams on and then there was the sedate ANZAC ceremony of oath, Last Post on a haunting trumpet, silence and Reveille.
The Sharks kicked off and, unlike them, they started running. When Tanerau Latimer obstructed Patrick Lambie missed the kick at goal.
The Chiefs went right where elusive Lelia Masaga had an overlap. He looked on the way to scoring by Odwa Ndungane just caught him and held on. But the Sharks were penalised and Gareth Anscombe goaled. 3-0 after 6 minutes.
The Chiefs had a line-out on their left after a weak clearance by Riaan Viljoen. They threw deep and Liam Messam played to left wing Asaeli Tikoirotuma who raced down the middle of the field past Frans Steyn for a straight run at the posts. 10-0 after 9 minutes.
From another line-out on their left Messam forged ahead and gave inside to Bundee Aki who raced over for a try at the posts. 17-0 after 13 minutes.
And still it was not the end. The Sharks went wide left along the half-way line and then came back wide right. Pieter-Steph du Toit passed an awful pass to ground which Ndungane knocked on. In gratitude Tim Nanai-Williams picked up and raced away for a try. 24-0 after 16 minutes. A walloping was on the cards.
To their credit the Sharks stayed calm and came back. A penalty gave them a five-metre line-out but they lost the ball to a turnover as they tried to go round the front. But a second penalty gave them a second line-out and this time they drove the maul forward for a try credited to Derick Minnie, which Lambie converted. 24-7 after 21 minutes.
From a scrum in his 22, Charl McLeod ran 40 metres of more up the right but a knock-on saw the Sharks back in their 22. Then McLeod tapped a free kick at a scrum and set the Sharks attacking. Awarded a penalty they took a scrum. From the scrum they went right. Lambie did some clever stepping past Aaron Cruden and in a tackle popped the ball to Lubabalo Mtembu who drove over for a try. 24-12 after 33 minutes.
And still it was not the end. The Sharks again turned a penalty into a five-metre line-out, mauled and Minnie scored. 24-19 after 38 minutes. The Chiefs led but the try count was three-all.
It was an astonishing half of rugby.
The Chiefs started the second half on the attack. A penalty gave them a five-metre line-out, which they lost. Then, near half-way, Cruden kicked a grubber behind the Sharks. Young Piet Lindeque came across from the left wing and dived at the ball but could not grab it. Instead Nanai-Williams scored the bonus point try. 31-19 after 46 minutes.
From a turnover the Chiefs attacked through 15 phases till the Sharks were penalised for offside and Anscombe goaled. 34-19. It looked that the game was racing away from the Sharks. But Viljoen was over only for the pass to him to be ruled forward and then the Sharks made changes.
On came Keegan Daniel, Marcell Coetzee and Kyle Cooper. Cooper was soon in action. He tugged the ball out of Tikoirotuma's grasp and charged downfield with it. The Sharks went right where prop Wiehan Herbst threw a perfect dummy and then a perfect pass to Daniel on the wing. With a hand-off Daniel raced down the touchline for a try and a bonus point for his side. 34-26 after 60 minutes.
Back came the Sharks off two penalties. They mauled the first but Daniel broke off early. Daniel tapped the second under the Chiefs' posts when the three points would have meant a bonus point.
The Chiefs had a scrum and Cobus Reinach intercepted the pass off the back and raced over 50 metres down field till Nanai-Williams caught him from behind, saving a certain try. Nanai-Williams was penalised in the tackle battle and this time Lambie was allowed to goal. 34-29 with three minutes to play. The Sharks now had the possibility of two bonus points But in front of his posts Daniel stole the ball in a tackle, no doubt realising that it was needed if the Sharks were to win the match. But he was penalised and Cruden goaled.
Man of the Match: There were several candidates in an entertaining game, but our award goes to Chiefs centre Tim Nanai-Williams – who scored two tries, saved a try at a vital stage and was always a handful as he skated about the ground.
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Tikoirotuma, Aki, Nanai-Williams 2
Cons: Anscombe 4
Pens: Anscombe 2, Cruden
For the Sharks:
Tries: Minnie 2, Mtembu, Daniel
Cons: Lambie 3
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Nick Crosswell, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Michael Kainga, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Robbie Robinson, 22 Charlie Ngatai.
Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Francois Steyn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Piet Lindeque, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean Deysel (captain), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Wiehahn Herbst.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 S'bura Sithole.
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson, Shane McDermott
TMO: Glenn Newman